What Role Should the GC or CCO Play in the Audit of a Fund’s Financial Statements? 

The first quarter of the year marks the busy season for finance professionals at private funds. Once the investment manager (or its administrator) finalizes the prior year-end performance for its funds, the firm can officially commence auditing those funds’ financial statements, although preparations have likely been underway for several months. From a regulatory perspective, Rule 206(4)-2 (Custody Rule) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 is the driving force behind the flurry with which a hedge fund manager approaches the audit process. See “How Does the Custody Rule Apply to Special Purpose Vehicles Used by Private Equity Funds to Purchase, and Escrow Accounts Used to Sell, Portfolio Companies?” (Jul. 24, 2014); and “How Should Hedge Fund Managers Revise Their Compliance Policies and Procedures in Light of Amendments to the Custody Rule?” (Jan. 20, 2010). Registered commodity pool operators must also adhere to CFTC Regulation 4.22(c), which requires that audited financial reports be delivered to the pool’s investors and filed with the NFA within 90 days of the pool’s fiscal year-end. See “NFA Workshop Details the Registration and Regulatory Obligations of Hedge Fund Managers That Trade Commodity Interests” (Dec. 13, 2012). Of course, even without these regulatory requirements, most institutional investors – particularly those that owe a fiduciary duty to their end-investors – insist that funds to which they allocate undergo an annual audit. To assist our subscribers that are currently engaged in the audit process, this article considers the audit from the perspectives of the fund manager’s chief compliance officer and general counsel. Specifically, we analyze the fund’s audit process and explore the extent to which legal and compliance personnel should be part of that process, or whether this is a purely financial function that is outside their purview. 

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